The Nigerian-born becomes the first woman and first African to hold the position of Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
67-year-old Nigerian-born Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has written her name in the golden books of the world’s economic history by becoming the first woman and first African to occupy the post of the World Trade Organisation Director General. She was appointed to this prestigious position on February 15, 2021. With this new development, she becomes a symbol to venerate and a true pride of womanhood given her outstanding strides to make her country and Africa a reference.
When Robert Azevedo stepped down last year from the position of Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the question of who will replace him became real but former Nigerian Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, after being presented by President Muhammadu Buhari, quickly became the people’s choice.
Though she remained favourite, the then Trump Administration struggled to veto her in favour of the current South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee. They raised several weightless arguments, but the Nigerian « pearl » remained grounded given that she had made her country progress massively when she was Finance Minister and had a proper experience in International Organisations. WTO and its members could read the writings on the wall and decided to freeze the debate on who will replace Robert Azevedo. Perhaps seeing the tough competition ahead, Myung-hee withdrew her candidacy. The Biden administration then formally expressed its support for Okonjo-Iweala. A merited support, given her outstanding academic and professional background.
Ngozi, The Career Woman
The PhD holder in Regional Economics and Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is indeed a career woman. She took one step at a time and is now reaping the fruits of her humble beginnings. The Economist and International Development expert sits on the boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, and the African Risk Capacity (ARC). She spent a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist, scaling the ranks to the number 2 position of Managing Director, operations. Okonjo also became the first woman to serve two terms as Finance Minister of Nigeria under President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan. From this, one can be tempted to say that Okonjo was born to make history.
Okonjo, The Pride Of Womanhood
Apart from being a career person, Okonjo did not for once forgot that she is a woman and she had to have a family. She is married to Ikemba Iweala, a neurosurgeon from Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria and is a mother of four. It was reported that during her strive of becoming the Director General of WTO, Okonjo-Iweala became a US citizen in 2019 after spending several decades working and studying in the country. Now the coast is clear. Okonjo has been given the opportunity to prove to the world that there is no taboo area, nor taboo post for women.